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In March, researchers uncovered a troubling privacy grab by more than four dozen iOS apps including TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media and video-sharing phenomenon that has taken the Internet by storm. Despite TikTok vowing to curb the practice, it continues to access some of Apple users’ most sensitive data, which can include passwords, cryptocurrency wallet addresses, account-reset links, and personal messages. Another 53 apps identified in March haven't stopped either.
The privacy invasion is the result of the apps repeatedly reading any text that happens to reside in clipboards, which computers and other devices use to store data that has been cut or copied from things like password managers and email programs. With no clear reason for doing so, researchers Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Mysk found , the apps deliberately called an iOS programming interface that retrieves text from users’ clipboards.
In many cases, the covert reading isn’t limited to data stored on the local device. In the event the iPhone or iPad uses the same Apple ID as other Apple devices and are within roughly 10 feet of each other, all of them share a universal clipboard , meaning contents can be copied from the app of one device and pasted into an app running on a separate device.